Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs just did Dak Prescott a favor, sort of. The problem for Prescott is, in the same breath, the reigning Super Bowl MVP also gave the Dallas Cowboys some bulletin board material in their contract talks with their franchise quarterback, which could all make for a much more interesting conversation as the two sides get back to hammering out details on a possible longterm extension. Prescott signed a franchise tag in late June that will guarantee him a salary of $31.5 million in 2020 and assures he'll be on the field for the Cowboys this season even without a new deal, but the team desperately wants to secure him for the future before the NFL deadline of July 15.
With just over a week to go before that bell tolls in Dallas, Mahomes was awarded a monstrous 10-year extension that locks him in with the Chiefs for a total of 12 years at a maximum payout of an eye-popping $503 million, making him the highest-paid athlete in the history of sports.
Truth be told, the Cowboys probably wouldn't be adverse to the length of such a deal, considering they initially offered Prescott a seven-year contract when talks first began in 2019 -- Ezekiel Elliott. Unlike his counterpart in Kansas City, however, Prescott would have none of it, and instead counter-offered with a three-year proposal that would allow him to negotiate another deal in the next two years or so under the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement; and in a futurescape that includes new television contracts and gambling revenues creating a mushroom effect on the salary cap.-- indirectly attempting to marry the length of his deal to that of running back
Over a year later,, but there remains a minor gap between where they are and where they need to be for the deal to be agreed to. Prescott now stands firm at four years while the Cowboys have shaved their ask to only five, with the latest offer from the club sitting at an average of $35 million per year ($175 million max value) with around $105 million or so in guaranteed money, although the Cowboys are willing to nudge past $110 million in guarantees if they can get Prescott to agree to Year 5.
And, for the record, sources advised CBS Sports weeks ago Prescott never asked for $45 million in Year 5, as talks remain progressive and absent of any contention.
That said, Mahomes should expect a case of ketchup from Prescott soon -- as a thank you -- because the contract structure on the former helps the latter justify being awarded a bit more money. No one with a sane mind expects Prescott will surpass Mahomes' numbers in any capacity, but it bears mentioning the first five years of new money on the historic deal does nudge things north a bit for Prescott. You see, any deal Prescott signs is 100 percent new money, whereas Mahomes' first two years of the 12-year Frankenstein contract is existing money, so what you'll want to focus on when it comes to comparing the two is the average payout from 2022 through 2026.
Why five years instead of four? Simple. It's because the Cowboys want five and if Prescott is to agree to it, he'll want to take the average of Mahomes' first five years of new money and slide the figure across the table -- namely $39.55 million. What that does for Prescott is give him an avenue to request slightly more per year than the current pending offer, now that the market has been wildly reset, and that could push his average annual salary ask to around $38 million, if not a tad more.
The Cowboys should acquiesce to this for a couple of reasons.
The first is fairly simple, because if Prescott plays on the current franchise tag and is faced with playing under a second in 2021, his salary for next season -- absent a deal at that time -- would balloon to more than $37 million. So in one way or the other, unless they shed Prescott (which they are absolutely not going to do), they're facing, at minimum, a $37 million payout in 2021. It makes perfect sense Prescott would use Mahomes' first five-year new money average of $39.55 million as the new ceiling he knows he won't get, and the $37 million floor he knows he likely will receive, to land squarely in the middle at around $38 million annually.
And, for the sake of being mathematically thorough, even if Prescott sticks to his guns on a four-year ask, Mahomes' annual average in the first four years of new money is $38.95 million. That means Prescott could still seek a bump from the current $35 million per year offer to $38 million annually and remain below Mahomes, which is where the Cowboys want to stay. For a Cowboys team that desperately did not want to set the market at QB, they can pay Prescott $3 million more per year than they initially intended and still take solace in the fact they didn't kick open the moonroof, because the Chiefs already did it.
Additionally, the Cowboys would like to not take the brunt of a $31.5 million salary hit in 2020, knowing a long-term deal on Prescott -- although the average annual payout would be higher -- would likely yield a much smaller Year 1 hit, contingent upon how the deal is structured. This, of course, would allow them to at least entertain adding a big name like, say, Jamal Adams; of sending the All-Pro safety to the Cowboys, thanks to a toxic October and Adams doing himself no favors with his constant and very public stream of heart eye emojis being sent to North Texas.
Still, an Adams trade is not impossible, but it's not even a discussion with Prescott not under a long-term deal and set to hit the 2020 cap for $31.5 million -- leaving them with just around $8 million in space once each of the 2020 draft picks are signed.
There's another caveat to the Mahomes deal, but it works in the Cowboys' favor, and that, again, is the length.
As mentioned, the team wanted to go as long as possible on a new deal with Prescott, but he stiff-armed it like it was Josh Norman in the open field. But Dallas can now point at what happened in Kansas City and argue longer deals help everyone involved, and that they actually exist in a world where most QBs stick to four-year deals. After all, if a former league MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP who is also only five months removed from having hoisted a Lombardi Trophy is willing to commit to more than a decade with a team -- surely that means it's a cool thing to at least consider, yes? In that respect, Prescott lost just a smidge of leverage (a sliver, if you will), in his argument against a longer deal.
Both Prescott and the Cowboys benefitting from Mahomes' landmark deal doesn't make it a wash, but instead creates a more robust and intriguing dialogue as they ready to sit back down to hash it all out in the next few days. It's long been expected the two sides will come to terms ahead of the deadline (which might very well be a buzzer beater), sources tell CBS Sports, and Jerry Jones -- who famously noted "deadlines make deals" and
Time will tell how it all shakes out, but the fact Mahomes landed his deal first may not be a bad thing at all.
In the end, it might be a blessing in disguise for all involved with contract talks in Dallas, because it now gives Prescott and the Cowboys their final parameters seeing as, thanks to Mahomes, none of this is a guessing game anymore. With deals now done on Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Mahomes, the only other contract that could reshape the conversation in any way is that of Deshaun Watson, but the likelihood of the latter happening in the next eight days is slim-to-none -- seeing as Watson himself is likely waiting for Prescott (who is up against a deadline) to reframe his talks in Houston.
For the Cowboys and their two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, all of the what if's and guesswork are officially gone. It's all right in front of them, waiting for someone to grab the wheel and floor it before the league closes the road to construction until 2021.